Saint Frances Cabrini

Setup Menus in Admin Panel

Mother Cabrini – Parish History

Our Patron Saint: St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

Feast Day : November 13

If you’ve ever moved to a new city, you know how lost and alone you feel until you get settled and make friends. Imagine what it is like for immigrants who make their way to other countries, especially if you do not speak the language. It was to these people that Mother Frances Cabrini came.

Maria Francesca Saverio Cabrini (Mary Frances Xavier Cabrini) was born near the towns of Pavia and Lodi, Italy on July 15, 1850, the youngest of Augustine and Stella Cabrini’s thirteen children. From a young age Frances Cabrini had a determination to go to the foreign missions. When she was eighteen, Frances wished to become a Sister. Three times she asked to enter the convent, but each time the Sisters said her health was not good enough. Reluctantly, she took over running the orphanage in Codogno, Italy. It was here that she herself began an order of Sisters called theMissionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. Several of the orphan girls joined her group. Frances took the name of the great missionary Francis Xavier. She hoped to travel to China and the East as a missionary.

When Frances Cabrini went to Rome for approval of her order, Pope Leo XII told her, “No, not to the East but to the West.” The pope knew that may Italian people were going to the United States. Life was very hard for most of them. They could not speak English correctly. They could not find a decent place to live and had to work long hours.

When Mother Frances Cabrini and six of the Sisters arrived in New York in 1889, she found many boys and girls whose parents had died. Many others roamed the streets while their parents worked. Only a few weeks after she and some of her missionary Sisters first landed in America, Mother Cabrini asked the archbishop of New York to let the Sisters start an orphanage. The archbishop was afraid to let Mother Cabrini do it. He knew that the $5,000 they had would not feed and care for the orphans very long. The woman reminded the archbishop that in the Our Father we ask God to give bread only for a day, not for a year. What could the archbishop say? He blessed Mother Cabrini and granted permission to open the home.

Mother Cabrini rallied the more settled and successful Italian immigrants to help those who were newly arrived, who were poor, who could not speak English, who were sick. And, of course, the children always remained her special concern. The story goes that one day Mother Cabrini walked into a wholesale fruit and vegetable store with a request, and a half-hour later left with a carriage, horse, and a wagonload of fresh fruits and vegetables  which she proceeded to distribute to the poor and children in Chicago’s Little Italy.

During her lifetime, Mother Cabrini founded 67 schools, hospitals and orphanages in many cities including New York, Seattle, New Orleans and Chicago. Many of her hospitals were named Columbus, including the now famous hospitals in New York and Chicago. She said that she named them Columbus because ?Italians know Columbus. They will find us there, and we can help them.? And help them she did.

Mother Cabrini became a United States citizen in 1909. After battling with failing health for many years, she died on December 22, 1917, in the Columbus Hospital in Chicago. The hospital kept her little room where she died just as she left it  a simple room with a white cast iron bed, a pitcher and bowl on a washstand, and a small prayer-kneeler in the corner. It soon became the custom to place sick newborns on her bed to invoke her care and intercession. Even today, there are many people who as infants were placed in that bed, a witness to the efficacy of Mother Cabrini’s intercession. In 1946 she became the first United States citizen to be canonized when she was elevated to sainthood by Pope Pius XII. She is the patroness of immigrants.

The education of children was an important aspect of Mother Cabrini?s work. Today, our parish takes the education of its children seriously. With a fine Religious Education program and Day School, the parish continues the tradition and legacy of its patron saint.

This legacy also continues through our efforts to serve the poor and needy members of society through many projects – including Holiday Food Baskets, St. Vincent Meal Program, Harvest House,Franciscan Peacemakers, Youth and Adult Outreach programs, Latino Ministry and our Sister Parish in Haiti. The life of Mother Cabrini remains a guide and motivator for our parish. Let us continue to carry her legacy into the future.

A Parish is Born…

May 23, 1955  St. Frances Cabrini Parish was canonically established by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.Our patron saint was chosen for her life of outreach, service to the poor, and education of children. She continues to serve as a model of inspiration for parishioners of all ages.

July 3, 1955  420 members met for the first time as a new Christian community in the gymnasium of McLane School at 633 Chestnut St. This served as our church for the next 26 months with Sunday Masses at 7:30 & 9:30 AM. Our parish children would attend Holy Angels School.

October 1955  A Financial Drive was conducted with a goal of $200,000 to build a combination church and school. Almost $250,000 was raised with 3 year pledges.

September 9, 1956  Groundbreaking for our new school was held. Parish consists of 500 families.

September 8, 1957  Dedication our school was held. When school began the following day we were only able   to accommodate 238 pupils in Grades 1-5. Our staff consisted of 3 sisters and 2 lay teachers.The school was completed at the cost of $364,553 including all furnishings for the school, chapel, kitchen and gym.

October 30, 1957  Sacrament of Confirmation was celebrated for the first time.

October 7, 1958  Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new parish convent.

November 1958  The sisters took up temporary residence in a house at 610 W. Hawthorne St. When the convent was completed, this house became the rectory for 9 years. Before moving there, the Pastor lived in two small rooms at the north end of school.104 parish children were baptized this year.

June 28, 1959  Dedication ceremony for the parish convent and rectory.

August 23, 1959  400 children are enrolled at our parish school.

July 1960  First Associate Pastor joins St. Frances Cabrini. Sunday Masses has been extended to 5 Masses.

1962  A new school addition will be constructed at the south end of the school and have a total of 6 (or 8) new classrooms ? 4 regular size and 2 double size. The latter can be converted into 4 classrooms as the need arises. There will be a library, a multi-purpose room, shower facilities, and lockers.

March 19, 1962  Groundbreaking ceremonies are held for our new school addition.

September 30, 1962  Dedication ceremony was held for our new school. addition.

August 1965  School enrollment grows and arrangements were made to have our 7th & 8th graders enter into a shared time program at Silverbrook School for Science and Math. During the next   few years, enrollment would swell to 585 children. The school was staffed by 5 Sisters of  Notre Dame and 11 lay teachers. A School Board was formed.

August 27, 1966  A special campaign was initiated to help raise funds for a new church to include a rectory and administrative office. Our second house-to-house drive for funds began. 160 workers contracted 950 due paying members with a goal of $200,000.

May 9, 1967  Groundbreaking ceremonies for our new church and rectory.

December 8, 1968  Cornerstone is laid on a date that coincided with the one on which the cornerstone of our first parish building was placed in 1958. A Parish Council was formed.

Palm Sunday, 1969  The first Mass was celebrated in our new church.

May 18, 1969  Dedication was held for our new church followed by a banquet and program.

January 1975  Our parish consisted of 1,400 families. School enrollment was 405.

1978  Stained glass windows were installed around the perimeter of the church. The cost was approximately $36,000 and was paid for by individual donors who contributed $375.00 each for a window as a memorial to a loved one.

1978  School enrollment is 420 students, 16 fulltime teachers (3 nuns) and 2 part-time lay teachers. School consists of 16 classrooms, a gym and IMC.

1980  “God’s Plan for Church Support” was the theme of a very successful financial campaign to increase individual contributions. This was urgently needed to cover mounting operating expenses and expenditures such as roof repairs, new rugs, parking lots, school equipment,   etc. The annual increase pledged amounted to $197,000! A very important part of God’s   Plan was to bring our large family closer together which it did!

1987  Parish membership is 1253 families made up of 4,247 individuals. Average weekend Mass attendance is 2500.

September 1991  With a growing need for administrative space, the priests vacated the rectory and moved into private residences. The rectory was converted to office space.

1993    Parish consists of 2150 families made up of 5323 individuals. School enrollment is 435.

March 1993-1995  With the convent now vacant, renovations were done to transform the building into meeting   rooms, classrooms for Religious Education and a new 4 year old kindergarten facility. Our parish now consists of 2,200 families and nearly 6,000 members.

1996  Latino Ministry is formed to serve the growing population of Latino Catholics in the area.

October 17, 1999  6:00 PM Sunday Mass is added in conjunction with the new high school Religious Ed program, LIFE TEEN.

2000  Parish population consists of 2008 families made up by 5600 individual members. 746 over 65 years of age and 1740 under the age of 18. 142 adult charter members are still part of our Cabrini faith family. This year included 71 Baptisms,101 First Communions, 57 Confirmations, 81 Sacrament of Reconciliation, 25 Weddings and 60 deaths. A Mass in   Spanish is held bi-monthly. School enrollment is 421 students from 275 families.

Fall 2000  Building Appeal “Building on Our Blessings” was begun which resulted in raising $3.1   million for school additions, renovations including a gymnasium, administrative offices,  classrooms, cafeteria, kitchen, locker rooms, art & music rooms. The church projects included a narthex, chapel, baptistery, lighting, pews, flooring, bride/family room,  handicapped accessibility including an elevator, parking lots and landscaping. The total cost of the building project, including loan interest totaled $5.7 million.

April 8, 2001  Groundbreaking for our church renovations. This chosen date coincided with the 32nd  Anniversary of the first Mass said at St. Frances Cabrini.

June 16, 2002  Dedication of our new church and school facilities.

2003    Mass and confession in Spanish is now held every Sunday.

June 2004  Spanish speaking parish population continues to grow with over 225 parishioners of Latino descent. Our parish is assigned a Spanish speaking Associate Pastor.

November 2004  Debt Reduction Appeal “Blessed and Called” was begun to reduce our current debt and to   help fund future capital improvements. The goal is set at $1.6 million.

November 2004    Parish membership is 2090 families consisting of 5640 individuals. 754 of these members   are over the age of 65, 1259 ages 45-64, 1272 ages 25-44, 534 ages 18-24, 410 ages 14-17, 847 age 6-13, 407 under 6, 158 ages unknown. School enrollment is 405 children in 4K.   8th grade. 24 lay teachers and 8 staff members. Religious Education classes include 544   children in Preschool – 12th grade.

July 2005  Parish membership is 2115 families consisting of 5640 individuals. 726 of these members   are over the age of 65, 1243 ages 45-64, 1280 ages 25-44, 437 ages 18-24 380 ages 14-17,  895 ages 6-13, 425 under 6 and 125 ages unknown. There are 157 charter members that are  still part of our parish.

July 3, 2005  St. Frances Cabrini celebrates 50 years of parish life with a Jubilee Mass celebrated by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan. Also in attendance were Pastors Fr. Jeff Haines, Fr. Rafael Rodriguez, Deacon Mike Koebel, former Pastors Fr. Leo Lambert and Fr. Ken Mich. Former Associate Pastor Fr. John Pulice, former parishioners Fr. Curt Frederick and Fr. Jim Kimla and Fr. Jerry Herda, Secretary to Archbishop Dolan.

June 22, 2011  Fr. Jeff Haines was appointed Rector and Pastor of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, and Fr. Nathan Reesman, who was serving as the shared associated between SFC and Holy Angels was appointed Pastoral Administrator of SFC.

2012  The formation of Discipleship Small Groups begins our focus on Evangelization.  Our first parish cookbook is published.

2014   We begin sharing our pastor, Father Nathan Reesman, and associate pastor, Father Enrique Hernandez, with Immaculate Conception Saint Mary in Barton.

          The Pastoral Council formally adopts a new mission statement for Saint Frances Cabrini: We are a Eucharistic family, inspired by Mother Cabrini, adoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus, forming grateful disciples, and joyfully             serving His people